Hopes, ex­pec­ta­tions and delu­sions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ANGELOS STANGOS

Judg­ing by a re­cent state­ment by SYRIZA MEP Ste­lios Kouloglou, the gov­ern­ing party would have liked to have seen a Geert Wilders vic­tory in the Nether­lands, in the sense that this would have caused tur­bu­lence in Europe, prompt­ing Greece’s lenders to seek a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion with Athens. This was just another fan­tasy har­bored by the coali­tion in Athens, as at no time in the course of the cri­sis have the lenders in­di­cated that such a thing would be pos­si­ble. SYRIZA also hopes that Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem – for some reason ab­horred by the left­ists even though he is not be­ing among Greece’s staunch­est crit­ics – will be re­placed as Eurogroup chief, even though he keeps re­peat­ing that he is not plan­ning to step down. This hope is nat­u­rally com­bined with ex­pec­ta­tion that Martin Schulz’s So­cial Democrats will win Ger­many’s elec­tions in Septem­ber. The idea is that Di­js­sel­bloem’s de­par­ture from the Eurogroup’s pres­i­dency can be spun as a vic­tory for Athens, while a Schulz win could change Ger­many’s stance to­ward Greece with the de­par­ture of that other ma­ligned fig­ure, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble. We can’t know whether the left­ists also har­bor a de­sire that Marine Le Pen will win in France. No one from SYRIZA has said so, but this would fol­low the rea­son­ing that chaos in Europe could lead to a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion for Greece. The pur­pose of all this wish­ful think­ing is, of course, to re­lieve pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment so it can stay in power un­til 2019 and pos­si­bly im­prove its im­age by then. The fact that this would mean the bailout re­view drag­ging on un­til Septem­ber seems ir­rel­e­vant. Just as SYRIZA and In­de­pen­dent Greeks couldn’t care less about the neg­a­tive ef­fects their games have on the coun­try, they have no qualms about de­lay­ing the re­view as long as pos­si­ble and all else be damned. Ev­ery­thing about their at­ti­tude and be­hav­ior sug­gests that they are al­ready on this path; let’s hope they prove us wrong. The is­sue, how­ever, has di­vided SYRIZA be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and his close aides, who want to see out the four-year man­date in the hope of a mir­a­cle (a re­bound in pop­u­lar­ity) or be­cause they are ter­ri­fied of a crush­ing de­feat, and those press­ing for snap polls be­fore the re­view is fin­ished. This lat­ter camp be­lieves that the gov­ern­ment and the left­ist party are al­ready on the wane and that things will only get worse the longer the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion drags on. They want elec­tions to con­tain some of the dam­age to the party and hand the prob­lem of the mea­sures that would be re­quired for an agree­ment with the cred­i­tors to the next gov­ern­ment. In the mean­time, how­ever, SYRIZA is drag­ging the rest of us down with it.

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